Ikamvanites have done it again. We are excited to announce that the IkamvaYouth class of 2020, against all odds, achieved an 88% pass rate. We are also proud to share that 78% of the cohort are eligible for tertiary opportunities, with 51% achieving a Bachelor’s pass allowing them access to university entrance. Three branches achieved a 100% pass rate, and this cohort achieved 232 distinctions collectively. In the backdrop of the challenges that were brought about by the lockdown and subsequent schooling disruption, the 2020 cohort achieved no small feat.
While we celebrate at IkamvaYouth, the national results have unfortunately regressed from 2019 by 5.1%, to achieve a 76% pass rate. While we recognise the unique challenges faced by the class of 2020 nationally, the pandemic only exacerbated the already existing inequalities regarding access to quality education in the country. Learners, more so those coming from the communities we work in, were placed at a huge disadvantage.
While COVID-19 caused major disruptions globally, after-school programmes became an essential part of communities’ response to the need for continued learning during the coronavirus pandemic. Internally we were pushed to find immediate solutions to ensure that learners in our programmes continued with their schooling and received adequate academic support despite the disruptions. We shifted our programmes to online platforms and provided learners with devices and data. Our 2020 Matric results across our branches are a testament to the importance of programmes such as ours.
Our CEO, Hope Chidawanyika had this to say “I cannot begin to imagine what 2020 was like for our Matrics. The Jet Education Services’ Education, Inequality and Innovation in the time of COVID-19 research paper published that 44% of children in urban areas are living under the poverty line, and sadly, this is where our projects are based. Schooling in 2020 meant that learners, especially those in the communities we serve, were sent home to essentially teach themselves with limited contact with teachers and resources. For matrics, this happened in the most crucial year of studies. I, therefore, commend the 2020 cohort, our reliable group of tutors and staff for their resilience, achieving such stellar results despite the odds”.
In the Western Cape, we are particularly proud of our Kuyasa branch for achieving a stellar 100% pass rate, with 92% of the learners in the branch achieving a Bachelor’s pass. One of the top achievers in the Western Cape province is Nelson from our Gugulethu Branch, who achieved seven distinctions. Starting in Grade 8, Nelson was one of the learners who joined the After School Programme. This is a maths and science after-school programme we ran with Olico in partnership with the Western Cape Government’s Youth and After School Programme Office.
Bridget Hannah, Programme Manager: Youth and After School Programme Office had this to say “ In 2019, as a grade 10 learner, Nelson addressed an audience of 300 representatives of government, NGO and donors. We were deeply moved as he spoke from the heart about how he had found a home in the IkamvaYouth After School Programme, an enriching environment where he was able to explore his love for maths. Two years later, and emerging from a covid ravaged matric year, this young man has triumphantly achieved 7 distinctions. This incredible achievement is testament to his grit and determination and his success is credit to every individual who has believed in him and his journey. Well done Nelson, we look forward to hearing great things!
Nelson speaking to Africa Melane at the 2019 After-school Symposium
Worth mentioning from our Western Cape region is our Atlantis Branch that achieved a 98% pass rate, with its biggest cohort since its inaugural matric class in 2017. A recent external evaluation of the branch reiterated the experience of learners as they braved through the lockdown; one of the key benefits of being in the programme, highlighted by the learners themselves was: “that there are people out there who genuinely want to see us succeed and are available for us”. The programme indeed gave the learners a sense of hope and possibility for a bright future.
Zooming into our Gauteng and North West district, we had two top-performing branches. The Ikageng Branch in the North West and our Diepsloot Branch in Gauteng both achieved a 100% pass rate. Thatoyaona, one of our best performers from the Diepsloot Branch achieved a Bachelor’s pass and 6 distinctions in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Computer Application Technology, Life Orientation and English. He had this to say:
I joined Ikamvaouth in 2018, during my exam preparations. I was able to get in contact with any tutor for either of my subjects, and I was also able to access very good and highly recommended study guides. When the lockdown came it meant no schooling and also meant highly reduced contact with the teachers who are supposed to help us, however, IkamvaYouth was one of the first after-school programs I know of to implement online learning via WhatsApp. This online learning was not only educational and informative but it was also very exciting and fun. I will be going to the University of Pretoria to study Mechanical Engineering. Thank you IkamvaYouth.
In the Eastern Cape, despite challenges including lack of access to electricity, water and sanitation, as well as Maths and Physics teachers, the Joza branch just outside of Grahamstown achieved a 93% pass rate, with 86% of the learners in the branch being eligible for tertiary. The province itself has year on year achieved one of the lowest pass rates nationally, this year achieving a 68% pass rate. Undoubtedly the Joza branch plays a significant role in ensuring learners around Joza get access to an academic support programme, helping them improve their chances to access tertiary and other post-school opportunities.
KwaZulu Natal region achieved a steller 84.5% pass rate. One of our top-performing learners nationally was from Chesterville, achieving 7 distinctions. Mandisi achieved a full house with seven distinctions in IsiZulu, English, Mathematics, Life Orientation, Consumer Studies, Life Sciences, and Physical Sciences.
Mandisi had this to say “I joined IkamvaYouth in 2018, when I was doing grade 10 and I can say that it was a great environment to be in, a conducive one too. There were tutors who helped me whenever I struggled with something, and got me to look at education differently. High school was quite challenging, especially at FET phase, but with discipline and determination I managed to be the top achiever in all my grades and passed my matric with flying colours (7 distinctions). At IkamvaYouth I learnt about the importance of hardwork and relying on your intelligence, I also developed the mentality of always aiming higher, and I’m thankful for all of that. My plans going forward are to study Computer Science at Wits University and during that period I hope to start a business of some sort.”
As the matriculants go on to access tertiary and other post-school opportunities, we can never underestimate the value of achieving a Matric pass, let alone a Bachelor’s pass. Research has continuously shown that for an economy like ours, a young person’s chances of leading a dignified life are directly related to how well they do in school. Learners with some secondary schooling earn on average R31,920 per annum while earning potential is almost 10 times higher for a learner with a Bachelor’s degree from University (earning on average R258,324 per annum). We particularly celebrate the record-breaking 51% Bachelor’s passes achieved by the 2020 cohort, as they are now on a path to earning a dignified living.
At the core of our programmes is one of our organisations’ values: paying-it-forward. The programme would not be possible if it was not for the dedication of our volunteer tutors. The tutors themselves were adjusting to the demands of the lockdown while balancing school, home life and volunteer time. While we celebrate pass rates in terms of numbers, it is the valuable relationships that our tutors and learners develop over the years that have contributed to the success of our programme. The small group support has proven time and time again to be effective.
Magdelina joined IkamvaYouth in 2018 when she was in grade 10. She obtained a matric Bachelor’s pass with two distinctions and has been accepted into a Bachelor’s Degree in Education at the University of the Witwatersrand.
She says: “My greatest inspiration is definitely my tutors at IkamvaYouth as they inspired me to fall in love with the subjects that I had a problem with, namely Mathematics and Physical Sciences. In the spirit of giving back, I will be coming back to IkamvaYouth to tutor Mathematics, Life sciences, Life Orientation and Afrikaans. To the class of 2021, I would like to say that no matter the difficulties that you experience during the year, please note that the joy of success is much greater than the temporary challenges”.
We would like to thank all our donors for supporting and investing in our work. Our work depends on the generosity of many organisations and individuals who themselves were coping with the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic presented. We greatly appreciate their commitment to our mission.
We are truly proud of the hard work across the organisation that has produced such great results. One of our core values is to nurture, within IkamvaYouth, a culture of responsibility for self and others. Our model builds, in the learners, the skill to self-study and support others. In 2020, these values truly came to life. While learners had no access to teachers and learning resources, they knew how to study on their own, they supported each other, and with the WhatsApp groups available they had support from IkamvaYouth. Really, #AfterSchoolWorks.
Well done IkamvaYouth, Class of 2020!
The end of 2020 marks my first complete year at IkamvaYouth. I would not have anticipated a global pandemic that could have brought IkamvaYouth to its knees! In today’s times leadership requires vulnerability and not bravado. It required our leadership team to be smart and honest, and take decisions that are in the long-term interests of the orgnaisation. In this complex environment we have had to constantly learn and adapt. We have made sure that we understand our limitations and have had the courage to create sincere connections with others in a way that builds an inclusive and progressive team. I was deeply humbled by the agility of the IkamvaYouth team, the support we received from different stakeholders, which immensely helped us to be dynamic, but also stay true to our values and goals.
It is really a coincidence that our organisation turns 17 this year, and at 17 many young learners across the country write their final matric exams. As I reflected on the significance of braving it through the pandemic I was drawn to the journey of our matriculants as they go through their final year. I reflected on the many workshops we facilitate for our Matrics on resilience, discipline, grit, planning, and scheduling studying time, and the importance of peer-to-peer support. All these lessons are lessons that, as we went through our own Matriculation year, we had to put to practice.
Our programmes rely on face-to-face tutoring, however, as soon as the lockdown was announced, our staff shifted gears and we quickly pivoted our programmes online to ensure we continued to support over 2 600 of our learners throughout the lockdown. No easy task!! To our programme staff, M&E, and all administrative staff that support the work, I thank you for your resilience and your true commitment to our work.
Central to our work is our team of volunteers, many of whom are university students who had to deal with the many changes demanded by the lockdown. The many lessons that you impart on the learners, you also put into practice. Lessons of discipline and grit. Thank you for consistently showing up in the WhatsApp tutoring groups and supporting our learners who are taking the same journey you once took.
An important support team to our work is our board. I joined the organisation on the clasp of concluding our three-year strategic plan. With insightful questions and thorough oversight of our work, we managed to conclude the three-year plan and cascaded it to our team goals. Your commitment to IkamvaYouth continues to contribute towards our organisational stability as we braved through all the shifts and challenges brought about by the pandemic. Thank you.
Many of our donors were severely impacted by the pandemic as operations had to stop for weeks and months on end due to the lockdown. However, our donors pledged their continued support for us at a time when their commitment was crucial to the continuation of our work. Many set aside COVID-19 response funds, which we benefited from. We purchased internet data for our learners, which comes at such a high cost. We purchased cell phones for the Grade 12s to ensure they all had access to academic support even when schools were closed. Without you, our work would not be possible. We thank you for investing in our work and seeing its value.
While 2020 was a challenging year, many opportunities have emerged from this crisis. Through shifting our programmes, we have managed to fully adopt a blended learning approach for 2021. We have also embarked on a thinking process of Re-Imagining the IkamvaYouth Model. While our model has yielded great results over the years, the pandemic has also triggered us to think of new ways to further incorporate digital skills to enhance our work. Out of this, we anticipate even greater impact and broader reach creating opportunities for further scaling our work.
Today is the last day of operations for 2020, and as we close our doors for the year to take some time to rest over the holidays, I am full of gratitude. Gratitude for the great lessons we learnt helping to propel us to the future. Gratitude for having an opportunity to see ourselves at our best as a team, gratitude to the friends and supporters who saw us through this year.
Just one more thing, as you go on your holidays, if you are not already, please consider joining our community of donors. Now more than ever, we need your support. Next year, we will open our doors in January to 2,600 learners across the country who in 2021 need our support now more than ever. Please sign up as a monthly donor via our Given Gain page or donate via the SnapScan code on our website.
Thank you, and I wish you a restful holiday and may 2021 bring new exciting opportunities for you.
“Dumisani was a tutor at the Nyanga branch and reached out to Sinethemba Jaca, the Nyanga Branch Coordinator. With the platform he had developed he needed to test the functionality of the web application. When Sinethemba came to me with the idea I was quite excited, after a few meetings with Dumisani we agreed to be part of the testing phase. We started testing the Visar web app with the Nyanga Matric learners on a Saturday. Thereafter, we brought in the other branches in the Western Cape region to also use the platform as we were intrigued by the functionality of the platform.
In August we held our inaugural virtual Winter School which was a new experiment for us. Fortunately, Visar worked seamlessly for us supporting over 110 grade 11 learners during the week. This was held as a region as all branches came together to create a unique experience for our learners. We had games, talk shows, talent shows, and importantly classes facilitated by our top tutors in the region. We were able to create multiple classes concurrently for different subject offerings. With data being expensive Visar allowed us to provide our learners with a great virtual experience without breaking the bank.
Learners had been using WhatsApp since March and they were now exhausted. They were missing human interaction and Visar allowed them to see their peers and hear each other. The tutors could explain concepts in more detail so it was definitely beneficial for the learners.”
Delphino, Western Cape District Manager
We spoke to Dumisani about Visar labs.
Tell us about yourself and what you do at Visar Labs.
I am Dumisani Ncubeni, the founder and CEO of Visar Labs. Visar Labs is an Ed-tech company in the education space and uses augmented and virtual reality technology to help students study science using an App we developed.
What does the app do?
The app uses augmented and virtual reality to help students better understand science subjects. Augmented reality is when you take artificial things and put them in the real world for example an atom that is on a question paper, our app augments the atom from the question paper and shows it on the phone to bring it to reality. Virtual reality is taking yourself and putting yourself in the virtual world. You do that by wearing VR goggles. For example, wearing VR goggles that will take you to planet Mars, you are not really in Mars but your experience is as if you are in Mars.
Which subjects do you focus on?
We are currently focusing on high school science, from Grade 10 up to 12. Sciences that we focus on are Life Science, Physical Science, Geography, and Maths. We have chosen to only work with Physical science, because the topics covered in Physics are the same from grade 10 to 12, so it is easier to create content so when a certain chapter is created, it will run throughout grade 10 to 12.
What made you focus on high school science?
Maths and science are the most failed subjects in South Africa and it is not because students are not intelligent but the problem is how it is taught in school. Physical science is taught as though it is magic so students cannot relate to it outside of school and they can only picture it when they are in the school environment, whereas science is everything around us. When a student is making tea at home and the sugar melts, that’s science. We want students to experience science outside of school and understand that it is everything around us. I did science in high school and I can count how many times I went to the lab, which was about two times from grade 10 to 12, and that didn’t spark interest in me to do science when I got to university. We want students to have access to these resources, to have labs on their phones, access information that they would not be able to get at school, especially for students from townships. There’s a quote that we like using when we speak about Visar “Intelligence does not exist, and if it does it is governed by one’s proximity to information” We want to decrease the gap between students from the township and information.
Which institutions are you planning on collaborating with?
We want it to be used by the Department of Education in South Africa. We have had meetings with the Government in March 2020 before the lockdown, the lockdown put a pause on the process, we are currently setting up to continue talks with the government. We want the app to be used in classes as an extension of the educator or an extension of a textbook, that is why we want to collaborate with the government so that they can provide this app to schools. We are also planning to collaborate with Answer series to use their textbooks so that our animations can be used to help students learn science.
Everyone that is in the educational space is a potential partner or client. We developed an App that operates just like Zoom for IkamvaYouth’s Nyanga branch which is the branch that I tutor in. Tutors were able to go online and help students with their school work. This was a trial that ran for three months, we will have a meeting with IkamvaYouth’s Tech Coordinator to find out if Visar Labs and IkamvaYouth could partner and continue using the App after the test period is complete.
How are you planning to cut barriers to data and phone space capacity?
There are high data prices in South Africa. By Collaborating with the government one, the government can provide data and two, they can provide devices because you need to use a phone for the app. In terms of data usage, the first part is downloading the app from the app store and there aren’t many pages so it does not take up too much space on the phone. The second data usage is that you have to be online in order to use the resources on the app, that is why it does not take up too much space when downloading it. If the government is endorsing it, we will be cutting barriers to access to the internet and have the potential to give students access to cell phone devices.
Will you expand to other subjects in the future?
Yes, but the impact would be different, it might be bigger in science subjects and smaller on business subjects such as Accounting and Economics since they have a theoretical side to it. The decision to focus on Physics was motivated by having limited resources at the moment.
What measures do you take to protect this resource from online hackers and viruses?
Our Co-founder and CTO is a very good software engineer. As he builds the website, apps and adds features, he always takes into account the security of the App and the people who will be using it. Before adding an App on Play Store, we must adhere to their requirements in terms of safety. We only use the camera to scan QR codes, as a tech company, you must always have integrity.
IkamvaYouth provides support to other NGOs who provide after-school support to high school learners. This Community Collaboration Programme (CCP) is currently supporting 17 organisations.
It is always an exciting time when we reflect on the work that organisations in the CCP have achieved. Earlier in the year, we celebrated our partners collectively achieving an impressive 89% pass for the 2019 class of matrics. Now they have taken it a step further supporting the 293 learners to secure post-school opportunities. We are happy to report on an amazing achievement of 70% placements, with learners enrolled in tertiary, learnerships, and employment.
The matric learners’ university eligibility and placement on various post-school opportunities are one of our key indicators in measuring the success of the programmes organisations offer.
Placements are an integral component as they create a clear pathway for learners to earn a dignified living within five years of completing matric. The overarching aim of this programme is to support learners to be self-sustaining individuals positively impacting their lives and those of their families, ultimately eliminating poverty.
Alumni from one of our partner organisations, Phakamani Young Minds Academy(PYMA), Zulfa Hansuana shared her experience with PYMA. “I am currently studying at Nelson Mandela University, enrolled in Public Relations. PYMA has helped me to be aware of application processes and procedures. Given the circumstances and environment we are exposed to, students like me don’t have enough information and are not knowledgeable about tertiary applications. Through PYMA I was able to apply at a tertiary institution and for Nsfas, this was a dream come true for me and my family since they are my supportive structure. I will forever be thankful to PYMA for all their tireless support and motivation, I don’t think I could’ve done it all by myself.”
One of the significant aspects of this collaboration is the creation of a platform for partners to share best practices in implementing the IkamvaYouth model to its fullest potential and continuous learning as we grow the after-school sector.
We are proud of all the organisations in CCP and look forward to supporting you all in the years ahead as we learn and grow from each other.
Debbie Weir said, “There is no ‘I’ in team’’; but we sure are glad there is ‘u’ in volunteers! Maintaining close relationships with volunteers is critical to any volunteer-driven organisation’s success. The IkamvaYouth Gauteng and North West branches understand the importance of volunteerism and embarked on a journey to appreciate the outstanding work of our volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the national lockdown started, our team has been working tirelessly with our volunteers to ensure our learners keep busy and are supported with their academics.
In true IkamvaYouth culture, volunteers’ work and commitment are celebrated yearly in different forms, as we witnessed in the 2019 Gauteng Gala and North West Masquerade ceremonies. This year things took on a different turn, due to uncertainty regarding when lockdown restrictions will end Online tutoring became our new normal. This sparked an idea from our District Manager to celebrate the work of our regional volunteers by arranging volunteer online appreciation week themed “suffocate them with love”. We dedicated an entire week acknowledging the region’s volunteers through sharing pictures, quotations, and spotlight articles that gave us a glimpse into the lives of our superheroes and “sheroes”.
All weekend long, followers of IkamvaYouth social media platforms were kept in suspense, wondering what the big hype was about as we began the countdown to the launch. The day finally arrived; Monday 29 June and we got the ball rolling from the first hour of the day. The ‘Gauteng and North West Tutor Appreciation Week’ announcement was made in style, on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It included a sweet introductory message of the week’s event from the region’s District Manager, Maria, and a picture collage with all our tutors’ faces on it.
Ever wondered why people volunteer? What it is like to tutor high school learners? Well, wonder no more! Our spotlight interviews gave you access to six awesome volunteers, namely Keletso (Mamelodi branch), Mzwanele (Ebony Park branch), Rebaone (Ikageng branch), Gopolang (Mahikeng Branch), Sarah (Ivory Park Branch) and Thabo (Diepsloot branch). The articles were structured in a “getting to know me” feel where we got to venture into their daily lives, aspirations, interests, and volunteering experiences at our branches. A fun fact from Mzwa’s interview, when asked if he were to be president for a day what would he do differently and his response was “Being president for a day can never be enough for me to change the country or implement anything, but I would enjoy my day in office with a cup of coffee, calling everyone I know, letting them know I’m head of state!”
Some of our tutors had this to say about the week:
“Being appreciated is always a very good feeling for one’s self-confidence. Seeing that you are noticed and recognised for the good things that you do for others is very pleasing. I think choosing social media to display gratitude is exactly how I wanted to be appreciated for a long time. So I feel very much honoured to be appreciated for a long time and on social media in fact.”
Odirile, Mahikeng tutor
“Honestly speaking, I am very happy, it is really a great feeling being appreciated where everyone can see. It actually gave me a sense of satisfaction, and I was able to realise that my time and efforts I spend with the learners mean a lot and that motivated me to work harder in assisting the learners. This is one of the best experiences I ever had.”
Gopolang, Mahikeng tutor
“Volunteer appreciation week made me feel very proud to be an IkamvaYouth volunteer – it was lovely to read some stories of fellow volunteers and tutors that I haven’t interacted with, as well as some words of thanks from learners. It made me feel very appreciated, to confirm the large difference that the WhatsApp tutoring is making for the learners during lockdown; which I am so glad to be a part of.”
Laura, Ivory Park tutor
“It’s been an exciting week for me, both North West and Gauteng branches came up with a brilliant idea that was able to reach us as volunteers. I feel motivated that our work as tutors is valued, even during these difficult times our branches have been able to show how much they value our work. Thank you for taking a week to appreciate us.”
Strongman, Ebony Park tutor
As we wrapped up volunteer appreciation week, we would like to say thank you for sacrificing your time, to assist the youth in our communities. Our Programmes Manager, Patrick had this to say;
“In every crisis or disaster situation, it calls for real nation builders to come forward and put their lives in the line to avert the impact of the crisis on humanity!! You are such nation builders! You have, like Tata Mandela forsaken your own comfort and have poured yourselves for the sake of the many Ikamvanites whose situation has been made more bearable because of your tutoring support. To us, you are nation builders, making history through your sacrifices! We thank you!!”
IkamvaYouth’s mission goes beyond just ensuring that learners pass matric, we also seek to ensure that learners access post-school opportunities that will set them on a path to a dignified living. Earlier this year, IkamvaYouth was proud to announce an 86% pass rate for our matric class of 2019. Not only did 86% of learners pass, 47% of the 2019 matric cohort achieved bachelor’s passes, unlocking access to study at university. We are excited to announce a total placement rate of 75% for the class of 2019. We are particularly proud of the 45% of Ikamvanites that have accessed tertiary education.
It is encouraging to note that a total of 211 of IkamvaYouth’s 2019 matric learners have secured tertiary placements, the highest number of tertiary placements achieved over the past five years. Furthermore, the percentage of tertiary placements achieved increased from 39.50% for the 2018 cohort, to 45% for the 2019 cohort.
Ikamvanites are enrolled in a wide range of courses this year, the most being enrolled in Business Administration & Management related courses, as well as Humanities/Social Science studies.
The diversity of career streams taken by the learners is encouraging, and it makes us proud to be supporting the learners to access these respective career choices. Without the support of the branch staff and mentors, some of these learners would not have had the chance to know the courses they are pursuing even existed. The following are just a few quotes from Ikamvanites, expressing their gratitude for the support in accessing their respective post-school opportunities.
IkamvaYouth would like to acknowledge the significant efforts of all branch staff and volunteers whose hard work and dedication has enabled placement of 75% of Ikamvanites. The continued support of our funders and partners is also greatly appreciated, as these partnerships enable IkamvaYouth to support learners on their path to earning a dignified living upon completing matric.